What Causes Allergies?
This post explains why some people are prone to allergies while others are not. You will also find some practical tips in the articles in the allergy category.
Allergic reactions are manifestations of the human body’s immune system that are normally meant to indicate the presence of a harmful substance, but they can happen when the substances are actually harmless. This is because sometimes the immune system has problems separating the good agents from the bad ones. The immune system has the role of detecting these agents (also known as antigens) and reacting to them through the production of immunoglobulins (antibodies), such as IgG, IgM or IgA, in order to avoid a possible infection.
For a non-allergic person, antibodies can attach to the surface of harmful agents, allowing other immune cells to easily destroy them. People who are allergic can have a particular type of antibody called IgE (immunoglobulin E). This type of antibody was first observed and tagged by Teriko and Kimishige Ishizaka in 1967, and its development can be the result of the immune system’s response to different agents that are not harmful, like cat dander.
The structure of the IgE antibodyIn order to better understand how this works, let’s give an example. In a regular household, a new cat is introduced. The father of the family begins to experience itchy eyes and sneezing, and one of the children starts coughing and wheezing. The mother and the other kid have no reactions of any kind. The explanation is this: only the father and one child are allergic persons, and their bodies developed a large amount of IgE antibodies to fight against the cat allergen.
The father and the child are now sensitive to repeated exposure to cat allergens. In most cases, before the first allergic reaction occurs, some time can pass (from a few days to a few years). Even if there are cases in which the allergic reaction begins immediately after first contact, repeated exposure is usually required for the immune system to become responsive. People must understand that allergic reactions do not usually occur when a person first comes into contact with a new agent.
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Every individual has a small number of IgE antibodies. But allergic people can have a large amount in their bodies. IgE antibodies are meant to constitute a good defensive mechanism against parasites. When an allergic individual is sensitive to cats, there is an increased production of cat dander IgE antibodies. The result of such a process is a coating provided to cells that are close to exploding. Examples of this type of cell are basophils and mast cells, and they can have a chemical called histamine, which is a mediator.
The presence of such chemicals in the body causes itching, inflammations, production of mucus, or localized sweats. A repeated exposure to allergens can lead to such manifestations. In the pet cat example presented above, the mother and the second kid produce different types of antibodies that do not cause any allergic manifestations. The conclusion is the pet does not affect them. Now that you see how serious they can be, do you want to know how to treat allergies effectively?